One of my favorite people at work is Pedro, one of our dishwashers. He is Brazilian and is still working on learning English. He and I have struck up a friendship and I look forward to him coming in each evening because I know I’m going to be greeted with a big smile, a big hug, and a big “What up?” He gets to work about five or five-thirty after working construction all day, so about seven he is ready for something to eat. Last night, he came to my side of the line to ask me to fix something for him and the other dishwasher. He said it this way:
“Milton, can you please make two hungrys for me and Viviana.”
I knew exactly what he meant and fixed their dinners and I’ve spent some time since thinking about the way he chose his words, wondering if he might be on to something. Instead of saying, “I need a nap,” how about, “I need a sleepy,” for instance. I remember an old interview Bill Moyers did with the poet Carolyn Forche in which she talked about how her immigrant grandmother used words functionally: instead of calling it a colander, she would ask for the “macaroni stop water go through” and everyone knew what she wanted.
I don’t know much Portuguese at all, other than my one unintentional pun. I also don’t know much about the lives of most of the folks I work with, other than what I see in the kitchen; they don’t know much about me, either. We come together to do our jobs, then we go our separate ways.
Today, I didn’t have to go to work and I spent the day working on my present for Ginger, which I can’t tell you about since she reads the blog, and eating lunch with my friend Doug for our Support Group Christmas Party. Doug and I go to different places for work and then come together to not talk about work and really get to know each other. Regardless of what Doug does to pay the bills, he is a painter. He gave me one of his paintings for Christmas. Over the last few years, he has spent a lot of time and energy learning about painting and honing his skills. Based on the piece hanging in my house, he has spent his time and energy well. Based on our conversation at lunch, he’s not spending his time and energy, he’s investing it. This time last year, I was determined to feel like a writer rather than wish I was one, so – with much help from Gordon – I started this blog. Tonight marks my 250th post, which was my personal goal before the anniversary date on December 27. I can say I’m a writer.
The BRH Choir put out a Christmas album while I was at Baylor and it included a song I had not known before then that I thought of driving home from my time with Doug and our quest for being more than doing. It’s called “Baby, What You Goin’ To Be?”
Baby, Lying in a manger, slumbering so sweetly,
What you goin’ to be?
Baby all the world is watchin’,
all the world awaits to see,
what will you be?
Baby sleeping in a stable, underneath the heavens,
what you goin’ to say?
Baby, did you bring the Good News?
Did you come to light our way?
Oh, look, see the cattle asleep, see the shepherds beside,
See the Wise Men, they bow unto you.
Are you the one who was meant to be Master?
To bring in the Kingdom too?
Baby, Hope of all the people,
what you come here to do?
What you come to say?
Baby, can you be the Savior?
Come to save the world one day?
Baby can you be the Savior?
Come to save the world one day?
Baby lying in a manger,
will you save the world one day?
As someone once reminded me, we are human be-ings, not human do-ings.